Nduduzo Tshuma in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
President Mugabe’s pledge of cattle to the African Union Foundation expanded from 300 to thousands following overwhelming support from local farmers, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told journalists here yesterday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the executive committee of the AU at the organisation’s headquarters, Minister Mumbengegwi said all the cattle had been auctioned and President Mugabe will present the donation at the opening ceremony of the 29th Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Government today.
“Tomorrow (today) morning during the opening session, His Excellency the President will present the donation which he pledged when he attended the fund-raising gala of the AU Foundation, the first of its kind where he was invited as the guest of honour when he was the AU Chair,” he said.
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“During that gala, His Excellency the President pledged 300 head of cattle to the foundation. The project was later expanded when provinces contributed cattle, these mainly being beneficiaries of the land reform programme and so the AU Foundation representatives came to see the cattle and requested that the cattle be auctioned and the chief executive officer of the foundation came to witness the auctions.”
Minister Mumbengegwi said President Mugabe’s donation was a very important development because it illustrated that there were a number of innovative ways that the organisation could use to generate revenue for its various institutions.
He could not reveal how much was raised through the auctioning of the cattle in the different provinces.
During his AU chairmanship from January 2015 to January 2016, President Mugabe advocated for the bloc’s self-financing as roughly 60 percent of its budget is donor-driven.
In 2014, the budget was $278 million, 44 percent of which was financed by member states.
Themed “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the youth,” the two-day AU Summit ends tomorrow.
The Summit will be Guinea President Alpha Conde’s first as AU Chair following his election in January 2016.
President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Mr Mahmoud Abbas, is among the speakers.
Minister Mumbengegwi said before the official opening ceremony scheduled for 11am local time, the Heads of State would get into a closed door session at 9am.
“There will be what we describe as a closed session first thing tomorrow (today) morning at 9am which is attended by the Heads of State and government. The main issue on the agenda is the report of (Rwandese) President (Paul) Kagame on the reform of the institutions of the African Union,” he said.
“The Kagame report makes a number of proposals some of which may be just administrative, but there are a number of them which require an amendment and ratification of the Constitutive Act and so these are matters which the summit is going to look at again more closely because at the last Summit in January, the General Principles were adopted, but the actual details were not considered or discussed.”
Minister Mumbengegwi said the executive council of the AU was seized with, among others, the occupation of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic by Morocco.
“There is the issue of the Saharawi Republic and Morocco, this is an issue which was quite contentious in the January Summit because it related to whether or not Morocco should be admitted into the organisation while they are still in occupation of Western Saharawi,” he said.
“At the end of it, Morocco was admitted, a number of countries were quite opposed, but the majority were in favour of her admission, arguing that we would better deal with Morocco from inside the organisation rather than from outside of the organisation.
“Now Morocco seems to have taken a position that they don’t want the AU to be involved in any way in the issues between them and the Saharawi Republic and so this is an issue that has occupied a lot of time in the executive council and is still under discussion. We are going into the final session in a few minutes (yesterday) to discuss this issue.”